This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Minnesota pregame: Joey King stepping up down the stretch; Chip Armelin returns; leftover thoughts on DeAndre Mathieu

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 25, 2014 - 2:29 PM

Tonight's game vs. Southern Miss tips at 8 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN and 1500-a.m.

If there is one and only one thing Minnesota coach Richard Pitino should get credit for this season, it's getting the players he has to play hard.

Now, as the Gophers head into their third-round matchup against 3-seed Southern Miss -- the most talented team they've faced in the NIT so far -- that quality matters more than ever.

A victory tonight would send the top-seeded Gophers to New York, and Madison Square Garden, for the NIT semifinals, where they would face either fellow top-seed Florida State or 3-seed Louisiana Tech.

Does Minnesota want that?

All year, we've seen the results of players kicking up their effort a notch under Pitino: Mo Walker (the most extreme example) and Elliott Eliason have notably improved, while DeAndre Mathieu, the JUCO-turned-Big Ten starting point guard, has somehow transformed into the most valuable player on the team.

Now, we're seeing that elevation in play from others. Senior Maverick Ahanmisi is playing as well as he has in his career. And in the last two games, Joey King has gone from under-the-radar to game-changer as Minnesota tries to hold onto its postseason life.

Sure, it's the NIT. The competition is far less stout than it was in the Big Ten slate. We know that. Still, these big performances are impressive simply from the standpoint of such showings reflecting a player's desire to keep competing.

On Sunday, King, who is averaging seven points and 2.7 rebounds on the year, finished with a team-high 18 points and added a pair of steals. The night gave him three consecutive games scoring in double digits, dating back to the Wisconsin game in the second round of the Big Ten tournament -- something he hadn't before done in maroon and gold.

Part of that is matchups, certainly. Not only do High Point and St. Mary's lack the talent Minnesota has, both squads also didn't switch on pick-and-rolls, leaving King open to shoot a little more. To his credit, he took advantage, connecting on four of six three-pointers in the last two games. Stringing together three big nights, especially when Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins have been hot and cold, has been critical for the Gophers' forward momentum.

"I mean, my teammates are getting me open shots and things are dropping," he said. "So it’s going really well. I just want to have a lot of momentum in this next stretch, going into next season."


The Chipper is back

Tonight marks the return of Chip "Chipper" Armelin to the Barn. Armelin transferred to Southern Miss after his sophomore season at Minnesota, and is back on the court after sitting out last year. 

For the most part, he's been the same type of player with the Golden Eagles as he was with the Gophers. His stats are up and down and somewhat unreliable, but he's still capable of having a big night off the bench. The 6-4 guard is averaging 4.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 13.4 minutes a game -- almost identical to his production for Minnesota in 2011-12.

"He's an energy guy off the bench," Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall said. "Some nights he gets you 12 or 14 and other nights he might only get you 2 or 4, but just a guy that really plays with a lot of energy. We have two really good senior guards that he's kind of caught behind, but he's a hard worker, he's a great kid."

Tyndall said the Louisiana native, hasn't acted overly excited for the homecoming, but then, Armelin was never one to do much talking. Judging by his Twitter account, in which he's retweeted a lot of Minnesota fans welcoming him back, he's greatly looking forward to the opportunity.

"He's the type of guy who's mature enough to just approach it like it's any other game and come in and do his job or play his role," Tyndall said.

Care to step back in time and remember Armelin's tenure in maroon and gold? Here are some highlights.


Tyndall will meet his former walk-on, DeAndre Mathieu, again.

My how things have changed since these two last met. Two years ago, Mathieu was in the office of Tyndall, who was at Morehead State at the time, asking for a scholarship. The coach said no. He had his reasons then. But he certainly could not have predicted Mathieu's steep climb since that day. If you haven't already, read my story on Mathieu and Tyndall's past. 

I wanted to share some leftover quotes from Tyndall that didn't get into the story.

*On not offering Mathieu a scholarship: "There have been some people I know that have been critical that I didn't offer him a scholarship, but I was the guy that gave him a recruited walk-on position when nobody else did. So I believed in Dre and I thought he had a chance to be a good player. And he certainly did some good things for us as a freshman."

*On Mathieu quitting the team midway through the year, after his best friend passed: "It was a pretty traumatic deal. Between his family and I we talked him out of quitting and coming back to the team but his role was pretty limited. He was a nice, little solid player. I liked Dre but everything he'd been through on a personal level and not being a significant contributor to our team, we just said hey, if you pave your way for one more year, we'll scholarship you for your last two years."

*On what he originally saw in Mathieu: "Obviously, he's an explosive athlete and when he and his mom came to campus to visit with me, the thing that made me want to give Dre a chance is he said he'd be willing to work as hard as he possibly could, that he loved basketball ... He seemed like a great kid from a great family, and so we gave the opportunity to him."

*On what he sees from Mathieu now: "It looks like he's just gotten stronger, which was so important in his development. He's shooting the ball better and playing with a ton of confidence. Which is great -- you've got to give coach Pitino a lot of credit for giving him that freedom and instilling that confidence. I think obviously the year of junior college probably really, really helped him too."


Denver 28 4th Qtr 5:50
Cincinnati 30
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Denver 82 FINAL
Charlotte 110
Portland 95 FINAL
Houston 110
Utah 97 FINAL
Memphis 91
Toronto 120 FINAL
Chicago 129
Atlanta 105 FINAL
Dallas 102
LA Clippers 118 FINAL
San Antonio 125
Sacramento 35 2nd Qtr 6:14
Golden State 51
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 5 FINAL
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(SO)
Florida 4
Arizona 0 2nd Prd 9:16
Vancouver 4
San Jose 0 2nd Prd 9:15
Anaheim 1
Calgary 0 2nd Prd
Los Angeles 2
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 68 FINAL
Colorado 82
Lewis & Clark 49 FINAL
Portland 71
SC State 59 FINAL
Abilene Christian 65
Manhattan 71 FINAL
Fordham 57
Truett-McConnell 57 FINAL
Ga Southern 90
Citadel 56 FINAL
Michigan State 82
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Ohio State 93
Gardner-Webb 89 FINAL
Purdue 84
Idaho 68 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Fairfield 66 FINAL
Albany 77
North Dakota St 61 FINAL
Alcorn State 50
UT Martin 37 FINAL
Butler 64
SE Louisiana 65 FINAL
UCF 70
Oakland 60 FINAL
Clemson 70
Florida A&M 57 FINAL
East Carolina 75
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 69
IUPU-Ft Wayne 43 FINAL
Illinois State 68
Norfolk State 74 FINAL
James Madison 71
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 69
Towson 56 FINAL
Navy 61
Long Island 73 FINAL
New Hampshire 72
Northern Ill 66 FINAL
Notre Dame 91
William & Mary 62 FINAL
Old Dominion 69
Liberty 47 FINAL
Princeton 65
Delaware 81 FINAL
Robert Morris 84
MD-Eastern Shore 82 FINAL
St Bonaventure 80
Colgate 43 FINAL
Syracuse 78
Kansas 52 FINAL
Temple 77
Mercer 54 FINAL
Tennessee 64
East Tenn St 60 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 84
Va Military 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Bucknell 53 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Alabama A&M 62 FINAL
Western Mich 71
New Orleans 59 FINAL
Indiana 79
Columbia 65 FINAL
Connecticut 80
Long Beach State 49 FINAL
St Johns 66
Wofford 44 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Southern U 66 FINAL
Baylor 70
Chattanooga 83
Char Southern 54 FINAL
Colorado State 75
North Florida 70 FINAL
Iowa 80
NC Central 67 FINAL
Jackson State 64
Rice 72 FINAL
Lamar 79
Central Mich 89 FINAL
McNeese State 56
Coppin State 56 FINAL
Michigan 72
Furman 76 FINAL
Minnesota 86
SE Missouri St 51 FINAL
Ole Miss 82
Weber State 51 FINAL
Oklahoma 85
Grambling St 39 FINAL
TCU 80
Loyola-Chicago 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
Incarnate Word 47 FINAL
Tulsa 76
Penn 50 FINAL
Vanderbilt 79
Chicago State 38 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 63
Simpson 62 FINAL
Drake 84
Tenn Tech 81 FINAL
Murray State 83 FINAL
Southern Ill 71
Oral Roberts 45 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Jacksonville St 65 FINAL
Air Force 66
Milwaukee 54 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
California 56
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
LSU 71
North Dakota 54 FINAL
Marquette 67
Northern New Mexico 39 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
UC Santa Barbara 78 FINAL
Oregon 82
Miami-Florida 62 FINAL
Providence 76
Northeastern 68 FINAL
St Marys-CA 72
Kent State 75 2nd Half 0:02
Texas-El Paso 78
UC Davis 73 FINAL
Northern Colorado 63
Lewis-Clark State 81 FINAL
Eastern Wash 87
Walla Walla 52 FINAL
Portland State 94
TX A&M-CC 45 2nd Half 13:50
Cal State Fullerton 52
Marshall 36 2nd Half 12:51
Nevada 57
Boise State 31 1st Half 0:41
Houston 20
UC Riverside 8 1st Half 11:29
San Diego St 14
Tulane 15 1st Half 11:40
Washington 11
Loyola Marymount 4 1st Half 12:56
Wichita State 14
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 59 FINAL
(16) Stanford 71
Washington St 87 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 60
Sacramento St 94 FINAL
San Jose St 97
SIU-Edwardsville 74 FINAL
Oakland 92 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Belmont 43 FINAL
(14) Georgia 62
George Mason 83 FINAL
Longwood 61
Kansas 81 FINAL
Creighton 84
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Kansas State 68
UT Martin 65 FINAL
Missouri 74
Hampton 67 FINAL
DePaul 86
Florida State 65 FINAL
Tulane 54
Murray State 44 FINAL
Illinois 64
Fla Gulf Coast 74 FINAL
Arkansas State 68
Utah State 58


question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters